L.A. Weekly’s Movie Guide is your look at the hottest films in Los Angeles theaters this week — from indie art house gems and classics to popcorn-perfect blockbusters and new movies garnering buzz.
Opening This Week (Wide)
Infamous siblings get a new horror take in Gretel & Hansel, which puts the sister up front as it reimagines the classic Grimm fairy tale. Director Oz Perkins, who also wrote the screenplay along with writer Rob Hayes, takes the inherent creepiness of the classic story from Germany and milks it for all its worth. Sophia Lillis (Gretel) and Samuel Leakey (Hansel) portray the main characters who journey into the woods to seek work and food to help their poor parents, only to stumble upon the dwelling of a sinister witch. Charles Babalola, Jessica De Gouw and Alice Krige co-star.
Out to prove she’s more than Ryan Reynolds’ fashionable arm candy, Blake Lively carries The Rhythm Section. The former Gossip Girl star plays Stephanie Patrick, an “ordinary woman,” as the film press states, “on a path of self-destruction after her family is tragically killed in a plane crash.” The dark journey begins after our heroine learns that the crash was in fact, not an accident, setting her on a path to revenge that includes lots of wigs and sexy disguises — if the movie trailer is any indication.
Opening This Week (Limited)
The feature directorial debut of writer turned filmmaker Claude Lalonde, Coda stars Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, as a famous pianist struggling with performance anxiety, stage fright and depression until a free-spirited music critic (Katie Holmes) comes into this life. Giancarlo Esposito, Letitia Brookes and Drew Davis co-star. Arena Cinemalounge, 6464 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Jan. 31, various showtimes; $16. arenascreen.com.
When Jane (Julia Garner) — a recent college graduate with dreams of becoming a film producer — scores a job as an assistant to a big-time entertainment mogul, her job consists of the expected duties: making coffee, loading the copy machine, scheduling appointments, taking phone messages, etc. But as her duties start to expand to wife-lying, couch clean-up and more, she soon comes to realize that her boss isn’t just a cheating big wig, he’s a monster. How she deals with that is explored in The Assistant, a study of degradation, crisis of conscience and how power can obstruct justice in male-dominated. If it’s not obvious, this is all based on the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Arclight Hollywood, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; arclightcinemas.com.; The Landmark, 10850 W. Pico Blvd., Rancho Park; landmarktheatres.com/los-
Arthouse Screenings This Week
Despite its referential name, the Ford vs…. screening series isn’t some car movie marathon. It’s a survey of John Ford, who directed countless classic films, from the Western genre and beyond, influencing filmmakers for decades to come. The series, which started last week concludes this weekend with more pairings of Ford’s films with those by filmmakers who found obvious inspiration and built upon the movie legend’s cinematic style, including Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln; Ford’s The Searchers and Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan; and Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath with Ford’s The Ox-Bow Incident. Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; full schedule at americancinemathequecalendar.
Filmmaker brothers Josh and Benny Safdie will make an in-person appearance at the New Beverly, during a Q&A following a screening of their acclaimed film starring Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems. Should be a fascinating discussion because, as noted in L.A. Weekly’s review of the film, the Safdie bros, “take us on a thrill ride… Young and full of ideas, these 30-somethings enjoy pushing the boundaries, and their camera goes places no other director would dare explore.” New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Thu., Feb. 6., $7:30 p.m.; $12. thenewbev.com.